Lesson Plan

Freeing the Elwha (Effects of the Elwha River Dams)

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Subject:
Science
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
6-8.RST.1, 6-8.RST.2, 6-8.RST.4, 6-8.RST.8, 6-8.RST.10
State Standards:
Washington State Standards:
Science
EALR 4:Life Science LS2A, LS2D, LS3A, LS3E 
Writing
EALR 1, EALR 2, EALR 3
Social Studies
EALR 5: Component 5.2
Additional Standards:
Next Generation Science Standards
MS-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
MS-LS2-1.
MS-LS2-2.
MS-LS2-4
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts.

Objective

What combination of factors (both natural and man-made) is necessary for healthy river restoration and how does this enhance the sustainability of natural and human communities?

Background

What combination of factors (both natural and man-made) is necessary for healthy river restoration and how does this enhance the sustainability of natural and human communities?

Background

This lesson focuses on the impacts that the building of the two dams on the Elwha River had on anadromous fish species, including the loss of 70 miles of river habitat for migrating fish, the effects of sediment loss on spawning grounds downstream, and general habitat degradation downstream. Learn about pre-dam conditions both in-river and in the surrounding terrestrial environment. Then hear the story of Thomas Aldwell, the entrepreneur who built the first dam and refused to accommodate fish. Finally, discuss the political and environmental conditions that led to the decision to remove the dams. Some of the links in the pdf lesson plan are now dead. Use attached articles as supplements.

Preparation

Print materials for students (attached readings) and student worksheets in the lesson plan pdf. 

American Field Guide - Historical Background on Elwha Dams

American Field Guide Teacher Resource - Salmon v. Dams

These articles replace the (dead) readings links in the lesson plan for Step 4.

Materials

Download Elwha Dam Presentation

Reading

Download American Field Guide - Historical Background on Elwha Dams

Download American Field Guide Reading: Salmon v Dams

Lesson Hook/Preview

Time Lapse Removal of the Elwha Dam – 4 minutes

Undamming the Elwha PBS Documentary – 26 minutes

 

Procedure

1. Review Essential Question; introduce Guiding Question.

2. Students should take a few minutes to respond to the first reflection prompts. Discuss their answers and any questions they’ve generated.

3. Present the PowerPoint Lesson

4. Refer to readings and the PowerPoint

Lesson to have students prepare newspaper articles on the building of the dams, the effect on salmon and finally the removal of the dams:

American Field Guide - Historical Background on Elwha Dams

American Field Guide Teacher Resource - Salmon v. Dams

These articles replace the (dead) readings links in the lesson plan for Step 4.

5. Hand out the second Reflection Journal Page. Give students time for a final reflection the lesson

Vocabulary

  • Watershed:The drainage basin where all precipitation (snow and rain) on the surface or below ground, drains into a single river or lake on the way to the ocean or to an endorheic basin.
  • Dam: A barrier constructed across a waterway to control the flow or raise the level of water.
  • Reservoir: A man-made water containment system often the result of lake filling behind a dam, but also can be water stored in large tanks or underground storage.
  • Anadromous: (uh-nad-ruh-muh s) A fish that is born in freshwater, migrates to the ocean to spend its adult life, and returns to freshwater to spawn. 

Assessment Materials

Rubric

included in lesson plan

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